Taxpayers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are forking out thousands to pay for a housing complex that was supposed to be funded with federal vouchers. This is because the city and the county did not comply with the regulations required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
HUD says the county and the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority did not play by the rules. And because of that, city and county taxpayers have had to fork out more than $100,000 this past year for The Crossings at Fourth and Preston. The money paid for 30 homeless people to live in the complex.
Just last month, city taxpayers contributed $11,669 and county taxpayers paid $3,975.
This is where things went wrong: In order for the rent to be paid by federal vouchers, the city and the county have to follow HUD regulations. For example, HUD requires a hearing for public comment be held - which never happened. A spokesperson for HUD also says the paperwork and plans were not submitted on time.
Lisa Wolfe, a spokeswoman with HUD said both a five-year plan and an annual plan must be filed with HUD. Wolfe said the county and Charlottesville's housing authority failed to file either plan.
"They just didn't follow the steps that they needed to take," said Wolfe.
Wolfe said it is also required to include how many vouchers are needed for the plans. She said Albemarle County needed nine and the city needed 21 but neither were included in a plan.
"The procedures basically had always been in place, they just hadn't been formalized in a written regulation so HUD said, you know, you're not in compliance with what we require therefore we're not going to let you project base the vouchers," said Kathy McHugh, Charlottesville housing development specialist.
Wolfe said housing authorities were sent a reminder notice about HUD regulations in fall of 2011.
The county can still apply for a waiver. A spokesperson for HUD says that process can take a while though - six months or more.
Regardless of whether a waiver is in place - it's not stopping the bills from being paid by city and county taxpayers. McHugh says the city could continue to pay more than $11,000 per month for nine more years if the waiver is not approved.
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